I know it’s still January, but it’s close enough to the end of the month to call this a February update. I’m always planning ahead, anyway, so why not post ahead?
No Complaining Allowed!
Speaking of planning ahead, I’ve laid out the next three years on my white board. Yes, I’m one of those people. I have a white board mounted on the wall next to my desk. It’s less than three feet away from me as I type this, and I look at that thing about a zillion times per day. It holds my writing life in blue, green, red, and black marker on its erasable white surface.
Along with my 2016 word-count goals, a list of 13 books I want to write and publish in the next three years is written on the left hand side of my white board. The commandment, “JUST WRITE!” is also written in large black letters alongside “NO COMPLAINING ALLOWED!” This is to remind me that complaining gets me nowhere. Action, on the other hand, kicks any would-be complaints in the ass, because action doesn’t give me time to think about complaining, or about all the shit that’s “wrong” in the publishing business. Things I have no control over, such as Amazon removing legitimate reviews for no apparent reason, the rise of Kindle Unlimited and its effect on books sales, less than stellar reviews written by readers who hated my books, and book piracy, just to name a few.
I used to be one of the complainers, but all complaining does is drag you into depression, slow down production, and shut off the creative valve, which is an author’s lifeblood. There’s not a lot I can do to make Amazon stop removing reviews and get rid of KU, force readers to write glowing reviews when they don’t want to, and end piracy, so I have a choice. I can complain to the wind and get absolutely nothing accomplished (or on social media where I risk upsetting my readers), or I can choose to do what I can do, accept that the world isn’t going to operate the way I always want it to, and JUST WRITE, which is the reason why I wrote that on my white board.
Besides, I have an ambitious writing schedule for the next three years, as you’ll see in a minute. I don’t have time to waste on complaining. 🙂
After attending a Liliana Hart lecture on self publishing last summer, I spent three whole days reevaluating my business, my writing, and my goals. I laid out a five-year plan, and I actually wrote down my top five goals (one of which was to get a Mac Mini so I could upload my books directly to iBooks—I fulfilled this goal back in November—and stop using Smashwords as my iBooks distributor, which has cost me thousands of dollars over the past three years). I’ve always said that it’s hard, if not impossible, to make it to your destination without a map to guide you. Writing down your goals gives you your destination(s). Creating a five-year plan is the map to help you reach those goals.
One of the things Liliana said repeatedly during her lecture was that authors need to focus on writing. After all, we’re writers. And when a writer isn’t getting enough time to actually write, she needs to stop taking on other things, because—and I’ve heard this said many times from many authors—an author’s best marketing tool is her next book.
So, one of my goals I set was to write more. For the past three years, I got caught up doing tons of blog tours, buying and giving away swag, doing workshops, going to signings, and pouring tons of time, money, and energy into marketing and promotion that really didn’t provide much of a return. What it did do, though, was it exhausted me and sucked my creativity into a black hole. Please don’t take this to mean I don’t like book bloggers. I love them! I have many friends who are book bloggers, and if they asked me to be on their blog tomorrow, I’d do it. But the actual tours that stopped on multiple blogs over a period of two weeks—or, in one case, two months—did me in. Bad. I can’t do those, anymore, unless I get an assistant who can help me handle everything else that’s going on while also tending to the giveaways I do for blog tours so I can write.
You see, I’m the kind of writer who requires large chunks of isolated, devoted-only-to-writing time to create a story and write it. And when I say large chunks, I don’t mean hours or days. I mean weeks or months. This means that when I’m promoting, running contests, doing blog tours, going to book signings, preparing and conducting workshops, etc., I’m not writing. Because I simply can’t do both, or I can’t do both effectively. Some authors can, but that’s not me, and I’ve faced the reality that this is just my process. Every author has a process, and mine involves shutting myself off from the world in almost every way. This used to bother me, but now I own it.
And if I try to do too much, I make myself sick. In 2015, I ended up having to cancel attending three books signings, because I wore myself down and got sick. This year, I’m scheduled for only three signings, and I’ve spaced them out so I don’t do too much at one time. I’ve also committed to three workshops this year. This is why I’ve had to scale back my projected publishing goal from six books to three this year, one of which I published in January (my Strong Karma Trilogy boxed set). Ultimately, this is what I’ve had to do for the last three years. I’ve tried to do so much outside of the writing that I got a lot less writing done than I wanted to. I’ve sacrificed the writing to do all the other stuff. I mean, I’m writing less now as a full-time writer than I was when I was working a full-time day job and writing only before work, after work, and on the weekends. And it’s because I’ve taken on a lot of extra stuff. Ironically, my writing income also declined from where it was when I was working a day job. When I was writing 90,000 words a month around my work schedule, I was making a higher writing income. When my writing production dropped to 40,000-50,000 words a month (or even less), so did my income. I’m moving in the wrong direction here, folks.
That’s going to change next year. After attending the Liliana lecture, I decided that in 2017, I’m not going to any book signings (unless they’re local), won’t attend any conventions unless I’m invited to speak on a panel, and won’t conduct any workshops. This will be the first year I’ve devoted entirely to writing since I published Rise of the Fallen back in 2012. I’ve gotten way behind on my writing schedule in the last three years, and for at least a year, I need to JUST WRITE! This is why I’ve written this in big bold letters on my white board. I need to get caught up and give my readers the books they’ve been asking me for, which brings me to…
My Writing Schedule
I’m putting this out to the world as a means to hold me accountable to my plan. From now until the end of 2018, here are the books I want to publish and when I want to publish them. Of course, this is contingent upon my muses cooperating with me. Also, most of these books are already started (one is even fully drafted, and one (guess which) is in final edits) and all are in some stage of planning.
- Bound Guardian Angel – May 6, 2016 (preorder now live on iBooks)
- Paranormal anthology to include Rise of the Fallen to come out in October
- BLACK – projected for release in December 2016 (preorder now live on iBooks)
2017 (months listed are for projected publish dates and are subject to change)
- Slave (AKM) – February
- Severin’s Muse (AKM) – May
- Good Things Come (Strong Karma followup) – October
- Memnon’s story (AKM Worlds title TBD) – December
- Voyeur – February
- Seduced – April
- Exposed – May
- Bodyguard – June (title subject to change)
- What the Heart Wants – July
- Grains of Sand – August
- Wrong Number – October
- Demon Marked – December (AKM Worlds title)
Ambitious? Hell, yes it is. Which is why I’ve already started writing the 2018 books and have built my production schedule to accommodate the workload while also taking 2017 off from travel and teaching. Will I get all these books finished? I don’t know, but I’m sure as hell going to try, and I’ve developed a fabulous game plan to ensure that if I don’t get them all published, I’ll at least draft most if not all of them. Of course, I will have to plan way far ahead to work into the schedules of my editor, book designer, and cover artists. After all, it takes a village to publish a book, and I’ve got to respect that other villagers might not be able to accommodate my schedule, which is why I need to plan ahead.
AKM Books Finally in Print
Readers have been asking me for years when my AKM books will be available in print. Well, the time is now. I’m thrilled to announce that by midyear, ALL my AKM books will be available in both digital and print.
I’ve hired an awesome book designer and formatter, Country Mouse Design, and my cover artist, Reese Dante, will be working on creating the print wraps soon. Since the original cover for Rise of the Fallen was digital only, a new cover is being made for the print version, which will include the short novel, Micah’s Calling. This will be a special edition print set, and the cover will include elements from both Micah’s Calling and Rise of the Fallen. All other covers will remain the same for print as for the ebooks.
I am extremely excited about this. I’ve wanted these books in print forever, it seems, and since I had such a strong fourth quarter last year, I was finally able to make that dream come true just in time for the books signings I’ll be attending this year.
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Here’s to a fabulous 2016 (and 2017, and 2018, and beyond!)